Men’s Livers Can Switch to Female if You Damage Them, Science Confirms

Men’s Livers Can Switch to Female if You Damage Them, Science Confirms
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Research from the University of Queensland has found that diseased male livers can change their sex if necessary.

During an investigation into the body’s circadian clock and its association with obesity, liver diseases and type 2 diabetes, scientists discovered the interesting find.

“When a high-fat diet was fed to mice that had their circadian clock gene turned off, we expected them to develop diabetes or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) like the control mice, but they didn’t,” says Associate Professor Frederic Gachon from the Institute of Molecular Bioscience.

“We also found that the liver of the obese male mice had been feminised probably due in part to the protective nature of the female sex hormone, oestrogen.”

If you’re like me, you’re learning today that there are genetic differences between the male and the female liver. Male and female livers handle metabolism differently, impacting and influencing bodily functions in different ways (such as responses to drugs and reproduction).

Sexual dimorphism has been observed in the liver for several decades, but it’s only now that scientists have found a link between liver changing its sex and liver damage.

When researchers found evidence of this in mice, they moved on to see if they could replicate the results in human samples. Low and behold, we have male livers changing their sex due to disease.

“The more advanced the disease, the more feminisation we saw in the liver tissue,” Gachon added.

“It appears that the disruption of circadian rhythms might be protecting the liver by influencing the levels of hormones such as growth hormone, oestrogen and testosterone.

“In light of these findings, we are investigating whether behavioural and hormonal interventions are possible treatments for liver disease.”

Thanks to these findings, we now have a better understanding of how livers respond to diseases in humans, with further research obviously needed to determine what this means for the future.

These findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).